Nearly 20 years ago today, on July 27, 2002, Kenny Chesney saw some “good stuff” happening in his country music career when he scored another number one hit. On that day, the Tennessee native climbed to the top of the charts with his song “The Good Stuff,” where it held court for seven consecutive weeks.
The song acted as the second single from Chesney’s multi-platinum No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems album. It was co-penned by veteran country music songwriters Craig Wiseman and Jim Collins.
The Kenny Chesney song is based on a man who had a fight with his wife and went to a bar, asking the bartender for “the good stuff.” As they talk, the bartender confessed that he lost his wife, advising his patron that “the good stuff” is all of the memories you can make with the one you love while they’re still around.
“Spent five years in the bottle
When the cancer took her from me
But I’ve been sober three years now”
The Tragic, True Story Behind Kenny Chesney’s Classic Hit
Although it gave Kenny Chesney his fifth notch in his belt of number one hits, Chesney and the songwriters got the inspiration for the song from a tragic story that happened in real life.
One of the songwriters, Craig Wiseman, said that the song was inspired on the spot by a story they heard from a security guard.
“The security guard where we were writing that day, Rusty Martin, was a friend of ours. He had lost his wife to cancer. In fact, he had moved up [to Nashville] because of that,” Wiseman said. “Jim and I were just about to write another song. We were talking about, what if you just sat there and watched your wife die. We both just sat there and were sort of stunned for a minute. We said, ‘OK, let’s get a cup of coffee and write a song!'”
After Kenny Chesney released the song, it reached No. 1 on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart. “The Good Stuff” also topped Billboard‘s year-end chart of the most popular country songs of 2002. Later, Wiseman gave Martin a surprise for acting as the song’s inspiration.
“I had gotten in touch with the funeral home where he had buried his wife and had a matching foot stone made for her that was engraved with ‘The Good Stuff,'” he said. “I went and gave it to him at the No. 1 party. Everybody was crying. I always say this song came about because of three long, happy marriages, and two of them are still going.”
The single also earned Kenny Chesney an ACM Awards trophy for Single of the Year and made him the Top Male Vocalist. Kenny Chesney also included “The Good Stuff” on his 2009 album Greatest Hits II.